Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Wonderful Way to Go

Yesterday a colleague and I had a lunch date scheduled with Nancy, who used to be a colleague but has now gone on to a new job. We waited and we called and finally reached Nancy who was in crisis mode. She works in a nursing home and a resident had just died. Back at the office this e mail from her was waiting. I thought it was lovely, and in a way life affirming, and wanted to share.

Nancy writes as follows:

So sorry to stand you up but things got quite out of hand here. During the 11:30 aerobics class, Pennsylvania 6-5000 was just getting the ladies going when Anna seemed to stumble and fall. No nurses around, so who gets called? Yours truly. No pulse, no breathing, a peaceful expression. Death is pretty easy to identify. I ask that she not be moved, and go to find the nurse practitioner. She's out to lunch, and the doc is never there on Wed. Somebody official has to certify the death, so my only alternative is to call the squad, so I call. The other ladies in the class pull up chairs and wait prayerfully. They know how to do this kind of thing with real grace. Rosaries appear, and they all somehow agree to recite the Lord's Prayer for Anna.

EMT's arrive-but so does Anna's daughter, THE MESS as she known by the other ladies. And messiness ensues. She tries to do CPR, although Anna has a do not resuscitate order (and is wearing the bracelet), The wonderful EMT man and woman try to deflect her, but nothing doing. Full hysterics, and the EMTs have to treat her with oxygen and hook her up to a monitor because she says she's experiencing chest pain. The ladies ignore her, and one of them says I might call Anna's pastor, who comes to see her weekly. I get his cell phone number from her records and call--he is minutes away and I think might be good for the daughter, and the other ladies as well. The aerobics instructor has disappeared--I hope she doesn't quit.

I stay with the ladies, who seem to be taking it all in stride. Anna is on the gurney now, and covered with a white sheet. One of the ladies keeps a hand on her arm "so she knows we're helping her get to heaven-in spite of the distractions." Eyebrows raise and all gaze at the whimpering daughter who is clutching the wrist of the handsome young EMT.

The pastor arrives WITH A COOLER. He opens it and pulls out a full plastic pitcher, and 3 Tupperware containers: orange slices, maraschino cherries and ice. Plastic wine glasses and napkins appear. He says, "Anna loved to have a whiskey sour when we visited." The ladies smile at him and hold out their glasses. We all have a belt (except the EMTs and the daughter, who is now wailing and hiccoughing) and then he says like he does this every day (and maybe he does!) "let us pray for our deceased sister Anna as she enters the mansion of our heavenly father." I love that man. I haven't had a whiskey sour that good since Christmas 1962, when my Uncle Pete made one for me on the sly.

So, how was your day at work?


mike t said...

What a great story. Thanks to you and Nancy for sharing.

Mary Beth said...

It had been months since I checked your blog, and a link to the WOSU blog showed up on a sacred music site that I stumbled on last night ( when I was looking up stuff about Ted Kennedy's funeral music. So I decided to see what you have been posting on this blog and fell in love with Nancy's story. (Among other things.)

I love your blog. I appreciate your frankness, your curiosity, and your generosity in sharing your journey.

Thank you taking time to write it all down.

Trish in Pickerington said...

This story is as good as the elliptical episode!